A Real-life Incident

One incident not too long ago serves as a reminder of the critical importance of failure analysis (FA) when dealing with failed integrated circuits (ICs). In this particular case, a part was returned as a failure, but no additional information was provided. To get to the bottom of the issue, we performed an extensive FA, including running the part on automatic test equipment (ATE), conducting bench tests, X-raying and decapping the part, and examining it under an electron microscope. However, to our surprise, we found no sign of any failure or damage. The quality assurance (QA) department concluded that there was no reason for failure based on our findings. This left us wondering why the part had been returned as faulty in the first place.

It wasn’t until about two months later that we accidentally stumbled upon an important piece of information. We discovered that the failure only occurred when the part was heated above +60°C. Armed with this new knowledge, we restarted the FA process. This time, we tested the part at room temperature (+25°C), but unfortunately, the testing process ended up destroying the part. Ultimately, it turned out to be a one-time return event, with no further failures. However, the most valuable lesson from this incident was the realization that without crucial failure data, we were simply guessing and wasting valuable time and resources.

Understanding Failure Analysis and Diagnosis in ICs

Failure analysis and diagnosis play a crucial role in identifying and locating defects within integrated circuits (ICs). These processes involve a range of techniques, including visual inspection, electrical testing, thermal imaging, and microscopy, which are employed to thoroughly examine the physical and electrical properties of the ICs.

The Importance of Failure Analysis

When it comes to ICs, failure analysis is essential for several reasons. First and foremost, it enables engineers to identify and understand the causes of failures that occur during the manufacturing process or in the field. By pinpointing the defects, engineers can implement effective solutions, thus improving the overall quality and reliability of the ICs.

Moreover, failure analysis helps IC manufacturers detect design or fabrication issues, allowing them to rectify the problems and prevent similar failures in the future.More manufacturers of electronic components can be found in Joinwin Electronics, which has close to 2,000 manufacturers’ authorised products. By implementing the necessary corrective actions, manufacturers can enhance their manufacturing processes and optimize the performance of their ICs.

The Process of Failure Analysis

The process of failure analysis typically involves the following steps:

1. Visual Inspection

This initial step involves a thorough visual examination of the IC to identify any visible defects, such as cracks, delamination, or physical damage. Technicians use specialized tools, including microscopes and magnifying lenses, to carefully inspect the IC, ensuring that no irregularities go unnoticed.

2. Electrical Testing

Electrical testing is conducted to assess the electrical properties of the IC. By subjecting the IC to various electrical tests, including voltage and current measurements, engineers can identify any anomalies or deviations from the expected behavior. This helps in narrowing down the potential causes of failures and determining whether the defect lies in the circuitry or other aspects of the IC’s functionality.

3. Thermal Imaging

Thermal imaging utilizes infrared technology to detect changes in temperature distribution within the IC. By analyzing the thermal patterns, technicians can identify hot spots or abnormal heat dissipation, indicating potential defects, such as short circuits or excessive power consumption. This information aids in diagnosing the root cause of failures and assists in developing effective solutions.

4. Microscopy

Microscopy plays a vital role in failure analysis by allowing engineers to examine the IC at a magnified level. Various microscopy techniques, including optical microscopy, electron microscopy, and atomic force microscopy, provide detailed insights into the physical structure and composition of the IC. This enables the identification and characterization of defects, such as metal contamination, foreign particles, or improper connections, which may contribute to failures.


In summary, failure analysis and diagnosis are critical processes in the field of ICs. By utilizing a combination of techniques, such as visual inspection, electrical testing, thermal imaging, and microscopy, engineers can identify and locate defects within ICs. This understanding aids in improving the quality and reliability of ICs, as well as preventing future failures.For electronic components procurement dry to the headache, choose Joinwin Electronics, we can deal with all kinds of problems for you, professional custom and mall as one of the electronic components distributor!

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